Japan Approves US$7.1 Million food Aid for Liberia

Liberia's Foreign Minister Olube King Akerele and Japanese Ambassador to Ghana H.E. Mr. Masamichi Ishikawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Exchange Notes
Liberia's Foreign Minister Olube King Akerele and Japanese Ambassador to Ghana H.E. Mr. Masamichi Ishikawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Exchange Notes
Photo Credit: IT/Public Affairs Bureau- MFA

An Exchange of Notes for Food Aid to Liberia from Japan in amount of 780 million yen (approximately 7.1 million US dollars) were signed in Accra, Ghana on Monday, August 18th. The Notes were signed by H.E. Mr. Masamichi Ishikawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Liberia and H.E. Mrs. Olubanke King-Akerele, Foreign Minister of Liberia. 

Decision on the Japanese food aid to Liberia  was made in response to the direct appeal of Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda for Food Aid (rice in particular) to Liberia.

The President’s appeal was made at an official meeting held with Prime Minister Fukuda on May 29, 2008 in the sidelines of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV). It was the crowning of the efforts that were initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the directive of the President.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olubanke King Akerele thanked the Government of Japan for the support Japan continues to provide to Liberia’s development agenda; especially the speed at which Japan responded to the Food Aid (KR) request by President Sirleaf. 

 Minister Akerele said Liberia considers this as a welcome development in her peace building efforts, saying that Liberia would like to make every effort “to learn how to fish” to feed herself.  On this path, she counts on the continuing friendship and cooperation of Japan.

“Additionally”, she added, Liberia wishes to emphasize that road construction and rehabilitation and electricity are very high priority areas on its development agenda.  As such, the government and people would like to encourage Japan to take a leading role in these areas in Liberia for they are critical to the country’s peace building and peace consolidation efforts.”

On August 24–31, 2008 – Japan International Cooperation System (JICS) will dispatch two staff members - Ms. Harumi Maruyama, Project Manager and Mr. Taketoshi Watanabe, person in charge to Monrovia for the Agent Agreement with the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) and for discussions of the Tender Documents. The Minister of Agriculture who chairs the Board of LPMC shall oversee the negotiations between LPMC and JICS.

It is estimated that after the JICS visit, the purchasing and shipping process could take between 8-12 weeks (October to November) for the Rice to reach the Liberian market.

 During the past months, consultations have been held under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and involving the Ministries of Agriculture, Planning and Economic Affairs, Finance and Commerce and the LRDC, LPMC and Central Bank. In the following weeks, consultations will continue under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Japan and Liberia have had a long standing relation, dating back to Liberia pre war years. The new chapter of the cooperation started with the visit of Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Japan in March 2007, at which time she and the then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on further strengthening Japan – Liberia relationship.  The President was received by the Emperor at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

As part of the result of the visit, a Japanese Foreign Ministry delegation visited Liberia and participated in the Liberia – Japan Cooperation Dialogue in May, 2007. The following projects were subsequently approved and are currently being undertaken by the Government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA): Follow-up Cooperation on the Liberian-Japanese Friendship Maternity Hospital, Rehabilitation of the Liberian-Japanese Friendship Maternity Hospital and  Master Plan Study on Urban Facilities Restoration and Improvement.

Other projects include formulation of a short and medium - term development plan to improve road network, drainage system, water supply and environment (including sewer and solid waste management),dispatch a short-term Expert of Medical Equipment Management to the Liberian-Japanese Friendship Maternity Hospital and the provision of  Capacity Building Training Program for Government Ministries and Agencies.